Friday, February 24, 2017

Rain Rain go away, come again some other year!

Okay...okay....our drought is busted. I'm officially crying UNCLE!!!

We've had a LOT of rain this last 3 months. More than we've had in over a decade, likely longer than that. Our reservoirs are filling up....some are already full and desperately dumping over the spillways. A reservoir in Northern Cal (up near Sacramento) has been on National news as it's emergency spillway has fallen apart and it's at 100%, and they evacuated a bunch of people from the town below while helicopters try to fill the hole in the spillway with giant bags of rocks and such.

We've had a brief remission of the rains these last 3 days here (but more is on the horizon for Sunday and next week). I got the MT bike out for a LONG HARD ride today (it was my Friday off): 35 miles, 7000' of climbing, over 5 ass-busting hours in the saddle. It felt WONDERFUL! Of course, I had to give the bike a good hose-down when I got home as no matter how careful I am NOT to ride thru water and mud, it still gets on the bike cuz there are puddles and running water still on the trails (very NOT normal for us). I rode all the way back to one of our far-removed reservoirs today:  Gibraltar Dam/Reservoir....they have been at 98% capacity for weeks now, and are dumping frantically over the spillway. And all that water going over is flowing downstream RIGHT into Lake Cachuma, which was down to about 6% capacity as of late last year...it's now about 45% and climbing, which is a MAJOR improvement....and with more rain coming and Gibraltar still spilling it's going to be climbing for many weeks to come! The news is actually saying our drought is over (for now). The Sierra Nevada mountains have the highest snow-pack they've had in a LONG time (decades), which will bring a MONSTROUS Spring runoff further filling our lakes and reservoirs AND replenishing our groundwater (which was RIDICULOUSLY low these last few years).

I just know that it's pretty much wet and muddy EVERYWHERE lately, and that's very frustrating to a MT biker. But I know we need it, so I'm keeping my whining to a minimum. See? I'm done.

But what IS exciting right now is that TOMORROW (Saturday) begins the 2017 Spring Classics! Yep...Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, the FIRST official race of the Spring Classics, goes off the line tomorrow....HOORAY!! It's followed by Strade Bianche on 3/04, Paris-Nice from 3/5 thru 3/12, Tirreno-Adriatico from 3/08 thru 3/14, Milano-Sanremo on 3/18, and so on and so on! HOORAY!!

I only wish that I could WATCH some of these beautiful races...but it costs a nice chunk of $ to get the cycling channels on our satellite subscription, and I just don't want to spend that money just yet...that comes in JULY when I finally do break down and get NBC sports for a month or two. In the meantime I'll just have to read about them. AND continue TRYING to get back into decent shape...between my recent work-travel, the holidays (beginning a week before Thanksgiving last year) and our inclement weather, my cycling fitness is not where it usually is this time of year. By now I've usually had a good handfull of LONG HARD rides on my resume, and I'd be feeling pretty strong by now. But not so this year...I'm struggling...today's ride almost killed me...I was barely crawling up the final climb(s) and even the final descent wasn't as fun as it should have been, as my legs were on the verge of cramping (for about the last 10 miles or so) and even my arms were tired and sore as I was descending. Boy was I happy to see the car! But hey...I'm better for it...tho we'll see how I feel TOMORROW on the Saturday morning group ride....I might just be hiding out in the pack being a social butterfly.

Also keep in mind that the 2017 ITI (Iditarod Trail Invitational) starts on MONDAY! Initially Jill Homer (aka Jill Outside) planned to be in this again...last year she RODE A BIKE the full 1000 miles, in ALASKA, in the WINTER, but this year she has found out that she has a hyper-thyroid condition, which explains her outdoors problems this last year or so (If I remember correctly it reared it's ugly head in Wyoming during the Tour Divide race, last year maybe, or was it the year before? I forget already). Her Dr. said it would be very NOT GOOD to go ahead and do this race she had planned, where you are on your own in REMOTE Alaska and could DIE if anything goes wrong or your health isn't top notch...so she has backed out of this years race and will be trying to get this under control. But her boyfriend Beat (Jegerlehner) is riding it this year...he's done it on foot the last 3 years in a row pulling a sled (he does the full 1000 mile route...tho last year he only made it half way due to a big storm dumping a ton of snow on the trail killed his chances and he had to bail for lack of food).

Here's a link to the racers this year:

2017 ITI race roster

And here's the trackleader site (where you can track individual athletes by their SPOT track):

2017 ITI trackleaders

There are basically 2 different races: the 350 miler to McGrath, and then the full 1000 miles to Nome. The world famous dog sled racers go off a week later, and will start passing the humans a few days later. I assume Jill will be flying up to Alaska anyway with Beat (she's already had her tickets long ago I assume) and will be blogging about it and riding around doing shorter day trips (I would assume she will be bringing a bike) and finally flying up to Nome for Beats finish in about twenty-something days (dependent on weather how fast the trail is every year). It's truly a monumental human powered race that blows my mind that ANYBODY does it!

And so...I need to get to bed...I'm BEAT (no pun intended...I wonder how many times Beat has said he's "Beat" in his life? From what I can tell he doesn't get 'Beat'...he's the outdoors energizer bunny!)

OK, later gaters...stay dry and warm! And COME ON SPRING! Stupid groundhog...6 more weeks of winter...grrrrrr!

Cheers!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

An ode to Groundhogs Day




Here’s to the special Holiday, so soon after the New Year; 
and with it our weather forecast, that we wait with baited breath to hear.
Just who is this evil sorcerer, who can end winters icy chill? 
Why, It’s the humblest of all the creatures, called Punxsutawny Phil!
He’s just a groundhog, a furry mammal as you all know; 
but every February 2nd, he’s the star of our weather show.
He doesn’t care about politics, nor about what you do; 
Phil doesn’t even care if you’re red or if you’re blue.
He doesn’t even notice, how much money you might make; 
he just wants us all to know, about what’s really at stake.
Six more weeks of winter, the worst news that he could bring; 
but if we’re really lucky, we’ll get an early spring!
Phil doesn’t care, if you’re woman or if you're man; 
he just makes his prediction, the best that he possibly can.
When he calls for spring, he makes most people glad; 
but if it’s more winter, then he makes most people mad.
From the California rains, to the states with all the snow; 
all I can say for sure is, PLEASE LET THIS WINTER GO!
I bring you this meager verse, from the state of Colorado; 
where the winter is REAL and I pray, that he doesn't see his SHADOW!
But don’t blame the groundhog, he just calls it as he sees; 
it is whatever it is, so go on out and do as you please.
I’m doing that here in the Springs, riding my mountain bike in the snow; 
and with these final words of mine, I guess I'll let you go.
Our lives are too short, to let winter stand in the way; 
so even when it’s cold outside, I say go out and PLAY!
I’ve nothing more to offer, this is the last thing that I’ll say; 
I hope you all have a wonderful, fantastic Groundhogs Day!

Colorado Springs, Gold Camp Rd, 1st tunnel (5 miles in), 1/29/17